The Joys of Supervision

I have been supervising staff for a number of years.  Call me weird, but I enjoy it. Usually after a few years, I can look back and see that it is all good and we are better.   If not, I would feel like a failure.  And this is especially hard when you work for the state.  Any state. Because they all make supervising very difficult. Not impossible. But very difficult.

I loved the time that I had an employee tell me that I was “out to get her.”  First of all, I was flattered, but if I was out to get anyone, it would take a boat load of work and unless I have gobs of time on my hands (which a supervisor/manager usually does not) and a really, really bad employee, well, I am just not going to go there.  Because it takes soooooo much time. And Effort.  And documentation.  Besides, I believe I have perfected the “Expectation Theory” where I make the expectations quite high and (gasp) actually expect the employee to meet them.  For some reason, they usually quit after a period of time.

My favorite story is about one state employee that really had me challenged.  After three years I still could not make any progress on discipline.  As soon as I gave them a bad review, I was called on an EEOC complaint.  When I questioned FMLA, HR told me to back off.  A counseling session ended with a grievance filed against me. But I didn’t give up.  I mean, I have been a supervisor for a long time.  I knew the game. So the next fiscal year I just wrote their position out of the budget.

Another time I had an employee who had some real issues and behavior unbecoming of any employee.  I called them into my office, told them very clearly with concise and stern language that their behavior would no longer continue under any circumstances.  And then I went home and told my husband to sue the state if the employee came back the next day with a gun and killed me.  (Yes, that scary).

Then there was the counseling session where the employee said, “Usually I get upset when you talk to me, but I just came from my doctor and he gave me some new pills so I am feeling really good and you aren’t bothering me today.”

And you know you have a good employee when they willingly (and with just a little teasing) drove to the office at 10:00 pm because their boss (me) inadvertently locked myself into a hallway.  I am sure I looked so sad waiting through the glass door.  Trapped. That never happened again.

Once I was the building manager for a state building.  One of my many jobs was to “go find the fire.”  So when the fire alarm went off, everyone had to evacuate the building but I had to go to the fire alarm panel, locate where the alarm was going off and investigate.  If it was a false alarm I called the fire dept and cancelled the call, shut off the alarm and went outside to tell everyone “All Clear” so they could return.  I do have to admit that the power of making an entire building of people wait outside for me was rather nice. Even my boss couldn’t come inside until I said so.  I always thought this was a good comparison to “time to make the donuts.” But instead it was “time to go find the fire.”

I had to threaten to fire my facilities manager one time for continuing to wear beer t-shirts to work. How many times should a supervisor tell him a Heineken shirt is inappropriate. Evidently three times.  Because it took that many.

True Story:  I once tried to poach a floor polisher from Publix.  It is really hard to hire a good floor person.  Keeping floors clean and shiny is an art and should not be taken lightly.  I tried to talk him into working for me but it didn’t work.  Can’t say I didn’t try.

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